Date:Thursday February 6 2014
In Michael Laudrup's final game in charge of Swansea City, his side produce yet another woeful display against one of their main relegation rivals, as West Ham comfortably beat the Swans thanks to the partnership of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan.
After a mid-week win at the Liberty Stadium against fellow strugglers Fulham, Swansea City looked to build on that when they faced another side below them in the Premier League table - West Ham United.
However, Swansea produced one of, if not their worst performance of the entire season as they lacked creativity, urgency, momentum, enthusiasm, organisation, belief and confidence to beat a side who have struggled to pick up results.
What was frustrating was the obvious fact before the game that you need to deal with the threat of Andy Carroll. We said it in our tactics feature here:
'Ashley Williams and Chico Flores will have to ensure they mark Carroll closely, as they have allowed previous opposition strikers to get space in between them inside the box. Nolan will also need picking up as Carroll may look to nod the ball down to his midfield team-mate if he`s not within range.'
It's worth mentioning that Carroll didn't score in the game, but he was able to win every aerial ball that came his way, and team-mate Nolan was unmarked to receive two balls from the tall striker to volley home the first before heading home the second.
The image below shows all of the passes that Andy Carroll received during the game, and as you can see, there's not a single red line there to indicate a pass he failed to maintain possession with.
As you can also see, the majority of the passes are very long, and the Swans just couldn't beat Carroll to the ball in the air for the entire 90 minutes.
They couldn't man-mark him either, as Carroll was able to get plenty of space in the box to head crosses and set pieces for his team-mates to produce a threat on goal.
Carroll's threat is well known, and we saw early on how much of a threat he could cause. Below is a screenshot of the game just 2-3 minutes in as West Ham win a corner. Carroll stands behind a team-mate closely, and he does this for every corner. Whether it's to help him get a good leap in the air or to prevent opposition defenders from marking him, it certainly worked as the Swansea defence just couldn't get near him. However, the likes of Williams and Chico should have made more of an effort to disrupt Carroll's desires to always stand behind a team-mate.
Before West Ham's opener, Carroll keeps winning headers as this is the host's main source of an attacking threat.
Above, Carroll wins a long ball from the left, but his header across into the box is picked up and cleared by Jordi Amat. Below, he wins another header, this time on the left hand side of the penalty area. Ashley Williams looks to win the ball, and while there were shouts for a penalty, the referee was right to let the game play on.
With Carroll winning header after header and the ball being moved into dangerous areas into the penalty box, it was only a matter of time before they'd open a scoring against a shaky defence.
Before they scored though, the Swans had a few attacks of their own, but they were never going to worry Sam Allardyce and his team. We've spoken so often in these match analysis articles about a lack of support through the middle and the team's lack of committing players forward.
Above shows the Swans starting a move down the left flank, as Wayne Routledge slips the ball inside for Ben Davies to break down the wing. However, what's frustrating is Routledge's reluctance to move forward and support the attack. We must assume this is a tactical decision from Laudrup, and this happens so often.
The screenshot below shows Routledge - staying in his position as he watches a lack of numbers moving forward in support. West Ham have 5 players back to defend against just two opposition players.
You can probably guess the rest, and the move soon ends as Ben Davies (below) sends in a low cross that is easily cleared.
We'll get back to Swansea's attacks later on, but they're very similar to the above, even when they're up against ten men following Andy Carroll's controversial sending off.
The opening goal
The goal had been coming, and after the Swans lose possession, West Ham can easily break forward with a simple diagonal pass out to the left, as Tiendalli has to track-back.
The right back is out of position, giving the West Ham crosser plenty of time and space to pick out targetman, Andy Carroll.
The screenshot below shows the yellow shaded area which is the space Carroll has to nod the ball down. Kevin Nolan can then make a short run to bring the ball down, before volleying it home. Three Swansea City defenders are marking 2 West Ham players, with nobody deciding to mark Carroll closely.
West Ham double their lead before the break
West Ham soon double their lead, and they did enough work in the first half to win the game and pick up three very valuable points as the Swans couldn't raise their game and inspire even a hope of a comeback despite seeing West Ham's main attacking threat Andy Carroll sent off on the hour mark.
Yet again, Carroll can easily win a header from a corner, this time by making a quick run around the back post. Kevin Nolan is left in 2 or 3 yards of space to head in from close range. It was simple really, as Swansea's defensive organisation was non existent.
Swansea still outnumbered in attack despite numerical advantage
Carroll's sending off on the hour mark gave the Swans some hope of getting a point out of the game, but their attacking play and lack of creativity meant that they had no chance of getting through an organised and well-disciplined West Ham defence.
Swansea were so often outnumbered massively whenever they moved forward towards the final third, despite playing against ten men. They still weren't committing numbers forward and their play was becoming more and more predictable and easy to manage.
There were plenty of examples in the final 30 minutes of the game to show Swansea's poor movement going forward. The screenshot below is just one example of how outnumbered they were. Bony is the only attacking player forward, whilst West Ham have 7 players back to defend.
The image on the right shows Swansea's passing pattern in the final 30 minutes - after Carroll's sending off.
You can see that the majority of passes come from the centre and are aimed out wide, with very little movement through the middle.
The Swans completely creativity, they couldn't find attacking partnerships to help work the ball inside and resorted to balls out wide with poor cross after poor cross being cleared with ease.
In the last 30 minutes, only 4 crosses out a total of 31 attempts were successful, 2 of which were corner kicks.
The tactics board above shows a typical pattern of play, showing how West Ham were able to completely outnumber the Swans as they defended in numbers, while the Swans played passes out to the flanks with the central midfielders sitting deep and offering nothing to the attacks.
Looking at the tactics board above, the below shows an actual typical uninspiring attacking move in the second half:
West Ham sit with their two banks of four close together, with very little room to get space in between the lines. After playing a pass out to a wide player, the central midfielder would then stay in that deep position, offering nothing to an attack. The Swans lacked confidence and momentum, refusing to push forward with midfielders hanging back as cover.
The screenshot above is the last we'll show as you probably get the picture by now. Routledge is in position and looks to beat a defender down the right flank. He has to go on his own as full back Tiendalli doesn't go with him in support. de Guzman, again, sits deep to offer nothing, while a triangle of three Swans offer a small target to aim for if Routledge manages to get any decent cross in.
The problems with Swansea's attacking and defensive game have been repeated in these Match Analysis for a number of weeks now, and hopefully Garry Monk can inspire an improvement across the pitch. Defensive organisation, a better understanding of a solid marking system and attacking that's not simply delivering crosses that are aimed towards just 1 player because of a lack of support.
Angel Rangel and Nathan Dyer can create a great attacking partnership down the right wing but without Rangel at West Ham, it was non existent. There's also no link up on the opposite side as we showed earlier. Routledge played Davies inside to run forward, but he refused to offer any support to the youngster.
Match Analysis courtesy of Come On You Swans.com
Date:Thursday February 6 2014
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